Homeschooling music appreciation can be challenging for a true music lover. It seems like the opposite would be true, but the problem with being a music lover is that you recognize the greatness of all the genres of music. Who and what do you teach? In our homeschool, we do it a little at a time. Sometimes I fold it in with a history study, other times it is as a stand-alone music appreciation class. We’ve homeschooled other Jazz greats over the years. Recently I heard a recording of Coltrane’s Moment Notice. I grew up listening to all kinds of music, so I was familiar with the piece, but there was something that struck me about the trumpet player this time. A quick internet search led me to Lee Morgan. This search also led me to a brilliant documentary, I Called Him Morgan on Netflix. The rest, as they say, is history. I’ve been compiling resources about him ever since then to use as part of a Jazz music appreciation study. The resources below range from Morgan Lee specifically to the broader theme of Jazz. Remember, since all homeschools are different, I recommend you review resources before introducing into your own homeschool.
DOCUMENTARIES (DVDs and Streaming)
- I Called Him Morgan directed by Kasper Collin is a remarkable documentary, not only about Morgan Lee, but also his wife and murderer, Helen. At the time of this post, this documentary is available on Netflix and Amazon Video. It is worth finding. To read a review of this documentary, see NPR’s review here.
- Ken Burns’s series Jazz is fantastic (like all Ken Burns’s documentaries are). You can order it through PBS here or stream it on iTunes.
- Smithsonian Jazz is the Smithsonian’s free educational guide to Jazz. There are lesson plans, music clips, and a brief history of Jazz. The lesson plans are divided by age for children ages 8 to 13 and 12 to 15.
- The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz is a resource that gives and gives. There are free lesson plans for grades 5, 8, and 11. There is also a Blues lesson plan. Be sure to check out the timeline located under the Jazz Resources tab.
- Jazz Day is April 30th every year. The Jazz Day website has an education tab that has free lesson plans and activity ideas worth exploring. Occasionally you’ll find a resource for older elementary grades (ages 10-11), but it mostly for middle and high school (ages 12-18).
- I’ve saved the best one for last. I’m using it for high school, but I haven’t explored every facet of it yet, so there may be some things that can be used for middle school ages. It is JAM (Jazz Appreciation Month) by EDSITEment. If you’re overwhelmed, Featured Lessons and Researching Jazz sections are the places to start. I can’t wait to add the Researching Jazz topics into a project that will encompass history, music appreciation, and language arts. The Underling isn’t a huge fan of writing papers, so the final project will most likely involve some type of mixed media project that involves smaller written pieces. I’m intrigued by the technique of voice and point of view in I Called Him Morgan. By using that documentary as part of the project, I’m hoping the Underling will be inspired to explore different point of view storytelling techniques in his project. I’m still mapping out the specifics of this project, but I’m excited about how it is shaping up.
- The Morgan Lee bio on Jazzgiants.net is a good choice for younger readers since it is mostly a bio of his music career.
- For a more detailed biography of Morgan Lee, check out All Music’s article.
- Lee Morgan On Music Matters by Greg Simmons appears on the All About Jazz website. Though there is some biographical information, it is mostly a commentary on Lee’s music.
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